Chemical Biology Publications 2012

Zhang W, Prakash C, Sum C, Gong Y, Li Y, Kwok JJT, Thiessen N, Pettersson S, Jones SJM, Knapp S et al. 2012. Bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4) regulates RNA polymerase II serine 2 phosphorylation in human CD4+ T cells. J Biol Chem, 287 (51), pp. 43137-43155. | Citations: 94 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Transcriptional elongation by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) is regulated by positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) in association with bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4). We used genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing in primary human CD4+ T cells to reveal that BRD4 co-localizes with Ser-2-phosphorylated Pol II (Pol II Ser-2) at both enhancers and promoters of active genes. Disruption of bromodomain-histone acetylation interactions by JQ1, a small-molecule bromodomain inhibitor, resulted in decreased BRD4 binding, reduced Pol II Ser-2, and reduced expression of lineage-specific genes in primary human CD4+ T cells. A large number of JQ1-disrupted BRD4 binding regions exhibited diacetylated H4 (lysine 5 and -8) and H3K27 acetylation (H3K27ac), which correlated with the presence of histone acetyltransferases and deacetylases. Genes associated with BRD4/H3K27ac co-occupancy exhibited significantly higher activity than those associated with H3K27ac or BRD4 binding alone. Comparison of BRD4 binding in T cells and in human embryonic stem cells revealed that enhancer BRD4 binding sites were predominantly lineage-specific. Our findings suggest that BRD4-driven Pol II phosphorylation at serine 2 plays an important role in regulating lineage-specific gene transcription in human CD4+ T cells.

Chaikuad A, Alfano I, Kerr G, Sanvitale CE, Boergermann JH, Triffitt JT, Von Delft F, Knapp S, Knaus P, Bullock AN. 2012. Structure of the bone morphogenetic protein receptor ALK2 and implications for fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287 (44), pp. 36990-36998. | Citations: 79 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Mutations in the ALK2 kinase cause extraskeletal bone formation. Results: We solved the structure of ALK2 in complex with the inhibitor FKBP12. Conclusion: Disease mutations break critical interactions that stabilize the inactive ALK2-FKBP12 complex leading to kinase activation. Significance: We offer an explanation for the effects of mutation and a structural template for the design of small molecule inhibitors. © 2012 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Fish PV, Filippakopoulos P, Bish G, Brennan PE, Bunnage ME, Cook AS, Federov O, Gerstenberger BS, Jones H, Knapp S et al. 2012. Identification of a chemical probe for bromo and extra C-terminal bromodomain inhibition through optimization of a fragment-derived hit. J Med Chem, 55 (22), pp. 9831-9837. | Citations: 117 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The posttranslational modification of chromatin through acetylation at selected histone lysine residues is governed by histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). The significance of this subset of the epigenetic code is interrogated and interpreted by an acetyllysine-specific protein-protein interaction with bromodomain reader modules. Selective inhibition of the bromo and extra C-terminal domain (BET) family of bromodomains with a small molecule is feasible, and this may represent an opportunity for disease intervention through the recently disclosed antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory properties of such inhibitors. Herein, we describe the discovery and structure-activity relationship (SAR) of a novel, small-molecule chemical probe for BET family inhibition that was identified through the application of structure-based fragment assessment and optimization techniques. This has yielded a potent, selective compound with cell-based activity (PFI-1) that may further add to the understanding of BET family function within the bromodomains.

De Antoni A, Maffini S, Knapp S, Musacchio A, Santaguida S. 2012. A small-molecule inhibitor of Haspin alters the kinetochore functions of Aurora B. J Cell Biol, 199 (2), pp. 269-284. | Citations: 47 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

By phosphorylating Thr3 of histone H3, Haspin promotes centromeric recruitment of the chromosome passenger complex (CPC) during mitosis. Aurora B kinase, a CPC subunit, sustains chromosome bi-orientation and the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). Here, we characterize the small molecule 5-iodotubercidin (5-ITu) as a potent Haspin inhibitor. In vitro, 5-ITu potently inhibited Haspin but not Aurora B. Consistently, 5-ITu counteracted the centromeric localization of the CPC without affecting the bulk of Aurora B activity in HeLa cells. Mislocalization of Aurora B correlated with dephosphorylation of CENP-A and Hec1 and SAC override at high nocodazole concentrations. 5-ITu also impaired kinetochore recruitment of Bub1 and BubR1 kinases, and this effect was reversed by concomitant inhibition of phosphatase activity. Forcing localization of Aurora B to centromeres in 5-ITu also restored Bub1 and BubR1 localization but failed to rescue the SAC override. This result suggests that a target of 5-ITu, possibly Haspin itself, may further contribute to SAC signaling downstream of Aurora B.

Hewings DS, Rooney TPC, Jennings LE, Hay DA, Schofield CJ, Brennan PE, Knapp S, Conway SJ. 2012. Progress in the development and application of small molecule inhibitors of bromodomain-acetyl-lysine interactions. J Med Chem, 55 (22), pp. 9393-9413. | Citations: 106 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bromodomains, protein modules that recognize and bind to acetylated lysine, are emerging as important components of cellular machinery. These acetyl-lysine (KAc) "reader" domains are part of the write-read-erase concept that has been linked with the transfer of epigenetic information. By reading KAc marks on histones, bromodomains mediate protein-protein interactions between a diverse array of partners. There has been intense activity in developing potent and selective small molecule probes that disrupt the interaction between a given bromodomain and KAc. Rapid success has been achieved with the BET family of bromodomains, and a number of potent and selective probes have been reported. These compounds have enabled linking of the BET bromodomains with diseases, including cancer and inflammation, suggesting that bromodomains are druggable targets. Herein, we review the biology of the bromodomains and discuss the SAR for the existing small molecule probes. The biology that has been enabled by these compounds is summarized.

Tahtouh T, Elkins JM, Filippakopoulos P, Soundararajan M, Burgy G, Durieu E, Cochet C, Schmid RS, Lo DC, Delhommel F et al. 2012. Selectivity, cocrystal structures, and neuroprotective properties of leucettines, a family of protein kinase inhibitors derived from the marine sponge alkaloid leucettamine B. J Med Chem, 55 (21), pp. 9312-9330. | Citations: 104 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

DYRKs (dual specificity, tyrosine phosphorylation regulated kinases) and CLKs (cdc2-like kinases) are implicated in the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome. The marine sponge alkaloid leucettamine B was recently identified as an inhibitor of DYRKs/CLKs. Synthesis of analogues (leucettines) led to an optimized product, leucettine L41. Leucettines were cocrystallized with DYRK1A, DYRK2, CLK3, PIM1, and GSK-3β. The selectivity of L41 was studied by activity and interaction assays of recombinant kinases and affinity chromatography and competition affinity assays. These approaches revealed unexpected potential secondary targets such as CK2, SLK, and the lipid kinase PIKfyve/Vac14/Fig4. L41 displayed neuroprotective effects on glutamate-induced HT22 cell death. L41 also reduced amyloid precursor protein-induced cell death in cultured rat brain slices. The unusual multitarget selectivity of leucettines may account for their neuroprotective effects. This family of kinase inhibitors deserves further optimization as potential therapeutics against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Elkins JM, Santaguida S, Musacchio A, Knapp S. 2012. Crystal structure of human aurora B in complex with INCENP and VX-680. J Med Chem, 55 (17), pp. 7841-7848. | Citations: 34 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

We present the structure of the human Aurora B kinase domain in complex with the C-terminal Aurora-binding region of human INCENP and the Aurora kinase inhibitor VX-680. The structure unexpectedly reveals a dimeric arrangement of the Aurora B:INCENP complex, which was confirmed to exist in solution by analytical ultracentrifugation. The dimerization involves a domain swap of the activation loop, resulting in a different conformation of the DFG motif as compared to that seen in other kinase complexes with VX-680. The binding of INCENP differs significantly from that seen in the Xenopus laevis Aurora B:INCENP complex currently used as a model for structure-based design for this important oncology target.

Chaikuad A, Alfano I, Kerr G, Sanvitale CE, Boergermann JH, Triffitt JT, von Delft F, Knapp S, Knaus P, Bullock AN. 2012. Structure of the bone morphogenetic protein receptor ALK2 and implications for fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. J Biol Chem, 287 (44), pp. 36990-36998. | Citations: 77 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) receptor kinases are tightly regulated to control development and tissue homeostasis. Mutant receptor kinase domains escape regulation leading to severely degenerative diseases and represent an important therapeutic target. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare but devastating disorder of extraskeletal bone formation. FOP-associated mutations in the BMP receptor ALK2 reduce binding of the inhibitor FKBP12 and promote leaky signaling in the absence of ligand. To establish structural mechanisms of receptor regulation and to address the effects of FOP mutation, we determined the crystal structure of the cytoplasmic domain of ALK2 in complex with the inhibitors FKBP12 and dorsomorphin. FOP mutations break critical interactions that stabilize the inactive state of the kinase, thereby facilitating structural rearrangements that diminish FKBP12 binding and promote the correct positioning of the glycine-serine-rich loop and αC helix for kinase activation. The balance of these effects accounts for the comparable activity of R206H and L196P. Kinase activation in the clinically benign mutant L196P is far weaker than R206H but yields equivalent signals due to the stronger interaction of FKBP12 with R206H. The presented ALK2 structure offers a valuable template for the further design of specific inhibitors of BMP signaling.

Vidler LR, Brown N, Knapp S, Hoelder S. 2012. Druggability analysis and structural classification of bromodomain acetyl-lysine binding sites. J Med Chem, 55 (17), pp. 7346-7359. | Citations: 149 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bromodomains are readers of the epigenetic code that specifically bind acetyl-lysine containing recognition sites on proteins. Recently the BET family of bromodomains has been demonstrated to be druggable through the discovery of potent inhibitors, sparking an interest in protein-protein interaction inhibitors that directly target gene transcription. Here, we assess the druggability of diverse members of the bromodomain family using SiteMap and show that there are significant differences in predicted druggability. Furthermore, we trace these differences in druggability back to unique amino acid signatures in the bromodomain acetyl-lysine binding sites. These signatures were then used to generate a new classification of the bromodomain family, visualized as a classification tree. This represents the first analysis of this type for the bromodomain family and can prove useful in the discovery of inhibitors, particularly for anticipating screening hit rates, identifying inhibitors that can be explored for lead hopping approaches, and selecting proteins for selectivity screening.

Brennan P, Filippakopoulos P, Knapp S. 2012. The therapeutic potential of acetyl-lysine and methyl-lysine effector domains Drug Discovery Today: Therapeutic Strategies, 9 (2-3), pp. e101-e110. | Citations: 12 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Epigenetic reader domains are protein interaction modules that selectively recognize common post-translational modification on histones and other nuclear proteins such as ε-N-acetylated lysine or methyllysine/arginine residues. Interactions mediated by these effector domains result in the recruitment of gene specific transcriptional regulators. This review focusses on reader domains that recognize acetylated and methylated lysine and arginine residues. Bromodomains selectively recognize acetylated lysines residues and inhibitors have recently emerged as promising lead compounds for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases, acting by specifically repressing expression of oncogenes and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Initial inhibitors have also been reported for methyllysine binding domains. Here we review recent development of this emerging target area. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Prudent R, Vassal-Stermann E, Nguyen C-H, Pillet C, Martinez A, Prunier C, Barette C, Soleilhac E, Filhol O, Beghin A et al. 2012. Pharmacological inhibition of LIM kinase stabilizes microtubules and inhibits neoplastic growth. Cancer Res, 72 (17), pp. 4429-4439. | Citations: 43 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence of tumor resistance to conventional microtubule-targeting drugs restricts their clinical use. Using a cell-based assay that recognizes microtubule polymerization status to screen for chemicals that interact with regulators of microtubule dynamics, we identified Pyr1, a cell permeable inhibitor of LIM kinase, which is the enzyme that phosphorylates and inactivates the actin-depolymerizing factor cofilin. Pyr1 reversibly stabilized microtubules, blocked actin microfilament dynamics, inhibited cell motility in vitro and showed anticancer properties in vivo, in the absence of major side effects. Pyr1 inhibition of LIM kinase caused a microtubule-stabilizing effect, which was independent of any direct effects on the actin cytoskeleton. In addition, Pyr1 retained its activity in multidrug-resistant cancer cells that were resistant to conventional microtubule-targeting agents. Our findings suggest that LIM kinase functions as a signaling node that controls both actin and microtubule dynamics. LIM kinase may therefore represent a targetable enzyme for cancer treatment.

Matzuk MM, McKeown MR, Filippakopoulos P, Li Q, Ma L, Agno JE, Lemieux ME, Picaud S, Yu RN, Qi J et al. 2012. Small-molecule inhibition of BRDT for male contraception. Cell, 150 (4), pp. 673-684. | Citations: 209 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

A pharmacologic approach to male contraception remains a longstanding challenge in medicine. Toward this objective, we explored the spermatogenic effects of a selective small-molecule inhibitor (JQ1) of the bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) subfamily of epigenetic reader proteins. Here, we report potent inhibition of the testis-specific member BRDT, which is essential for chromatin remodeling during spermatogenesis. Biochemical and crystallographic studies confirm that occupancy of the BRDT acetyl-lysine binding pocket by JQ1 prevents recognition of acetylated histone H4. Treatment of mice with JQ1 reduced seminiferous tubule area, testis size, and spermatozoa number and motility without affecting hormone levels. Although JQ1-treated males mate normally, inhibitory effects of JQ1 evident at the spermatocyte and round spermatid stages cause a complete and reversible contraceptive effect. These data establish a new contraceptive that can cross the blood:testis boundary and inhibit bromodomain activity during spermatogenesis, providing a lead compound targeting the male germ cell for contraception.

Filippakopoulos P, Knapp S. 2012. The bromodomain interaction module FEBS Letters, 586 (17), pp. 2692-2704. | Citations: 200 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

-N-acetylation of lysine residues (K ac) is one of the most abundant post-translation modifications (PTMs) in the human proteome. In the nucleus, acetylation of histones has been linked to transcriptional activation of genes but the functional consequences of most acetylation events and proteins recruited to these sites remains largely unknown. Bromodomains (BRDs) are small helical interaction modules that specifically recognize acetylation sites in proteins. BRDs have recently emerged as interesting targets for the development of specific protein interaction inhibitors, enabling a novel exiting strategy for the development of new therapies. This review provides an overview over sequence requirements of BRDs, known substrates and the structural mechanisms of specific K ac recognition. © 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Global Cancer Genomics Consortium. 2012. The Global Cancer Genomics Consortium: interfacing genomics and cancer medicine. Cancer Res, 72 (15), pp. 3720-3724. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The Global Cancer Genomics Consortium (GCGC) is an international collaborative platform that amalgamates cancer biologists, cutting-edge genomics, and high-throughput expertise with medical oncologists and surgical oncologists; they address the most important translational questions that are central to cancer research and treatment. The annual GCGC symposium was held at the Advanced Centre for Treatment Research and Education in Cancer, Mumbai, India, from November 9 to 11, 2011. The symposium showcased international next-generation sequencing efforts that explore cancer-specific transcriptomic changes, single-nucleotide polymorphism, and copy number variations in various types of cancers, as well as the structural genomics approach to develop new therapeutic targets and chemical probes. From the spectrum of studies presented at the symposium, it is evident that the translation of emerging cancer genomics knowledge into clinical applications can only be achieved through the integration of multidisciplinary expertise. In summary, the GCGC symposium provided practical knowledge on structural and cancer genomics approaches, as well as an exclusive platform for focused cancer genomics endeavors.

Brault L, Menter T, Obermann EC, Knapp S, Thommen S, Schwaller J, Tzankov A. 2012. PIM kinases are progression markers and emerging therapeutic targets in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma British Journal of Cancer, 107 (3), pp. 491-500. | Citations: 33 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: PIM serine/threonine kinases are often highly expressed in haematological malignancies. We have shown that PIM inhibitors reduced the survival and migration of leukaemic cells. Here, we investigated PIM kinases in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) biopsy samples and DLBCL cell lines.Methods:Immunohistochemical staining for PIM kinases and CXCR4 was performed on tissue microarrays from a cohort of 101 DLBCL cases, and the effects of PIM inhibitors on the survival and migration of DLBCL cell lines were determined.Results:PIM1 expression significantly correlated with the activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 and 5, P-glycoprotein expression, CXCR4-S339 phosphorylation, and cell proliferation. Whereas most cases exhibited cytoplasmic or cytoplasmic and nuclear PIM1 and PIM2 expression, 12 cases (10 of the non-germinal centre DLBCL type) expressed PIM1 predominately in the nucleus. Interestingly, nuclear expression of PIM1 significantly correlated with disease stage. Exposure of DLBCL cell lines to PIM inhibitors modestly impaired cellular proliferation and CXCR4-mediated migration.Conclusion:This work demonstrates that PIM expression in DLBCL is associated with activation of the JAK/STAT signalling pathway and with the proliferative activity. The correlation of nuclear PIM1 expression with disease stage and the modest response to small-molecule inhibitors suggests that PIM kinases are progression markers rather than primary therapeutic targets in DLBCL. © 2012 Cancer Research UK All rights reserved.

Elkins JM, Knapp S. 2012. The structure of the full-length tetrameric PKA regulatory RIIβ complex reveals the mechanism of allosteric PKA activation. Sci Signal, 5 (224), pp. pe21. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The catalytic activity of protein kinases is usually tightly controlled by posttranslational modifications and diverse sets of regulatory proteins. Protein kinases are highly dynamic enzymes, and structures of kinases in various activation states and costructures with regulatory proteins have provided critical insights into the complex regulatory mechanisms of this large and diverse protein family. The crystal structure of protein kinase A (PKA) provided a reference model for our understanding of kinase catalytic function. Now, more than two decades later, the high-resolution model of a full-length tetrameric PKA holoenzyme has been published, revealing the structural mechanisms underlying allosteric PKA activation.

Kettenbach AN, Wang T, Faherty BK, Madden DR, Knapp S, Bailey-Kellogg C, Gerber SA. 2012. Rapid determination of multiple linear kinase substrate motifs by mass spectrometry. Chem Biol, 19 (5), pp. 608-618. | Citations: 37 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Kinase-substrate recognition depends on the chemical properties of the phosphorylatable residue as well as the surrounding linear sequence motif. Detailed knowledge of these characteristics increases the confidence of linking identified phosphorylation sites to kinases, predicting phosphorylation sites, and designing optimal peptide substrates. Here, we present a mass spectrometry-based approach for determining linear kinase substrate motifs by elaborating the positional and chemical preference of the kinase for a phosphorylatable residue using libraries of naturally-occurring peptides that are amenable to peptide identification by commonly used proteomics platforms. We applied this approach to a structurally and functionally diverse set of purified kinases, which recapitulated their previously described substrate motifs and discovered additional ones, including preferences of certain kinases for phosphorylatable residues adjacent to peptide termini. Furthermore, we identify specific and distinguishable motif elements for the four members of the polo-like kinase (Plk) family and verify members of these motif elements for Plk1 in vivo.

Hellwig S, Miduturu CV, Kanda S, Zhang J, Filippakopoulos P, Salah E, Deng X, Choi HG, Zhou W, Hur W et al. 2012. Small-molecule inhibitors of the c-Fes protein-tyrosine kinase. Chem Biol, 19 (4), pp. 529-540. | Citations: 16 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The c-Fes protein-tyrosine kinase modulates cellular signaling pathways governing differentiation, the innate immune response, and vasculogenesis. Here, we report the identification of types I and II kinase inhibitors with potent activity against c-Fes both in vitro and in cell-based assays. One of the most potent inhibitors is the previously described anaplastic lymphoma kinase inhibitor TAE684. The crystal structure of TAE684 in complex with the c-Fes SH2-kinase domain showed excellent shape complementarity with the ATP-binding pocket and a key role for the gatekeeper methionine in the inhibitory mechanism. TAE684 and two pyrazolopyrimidines with nanomolar potency against c-Fes in vitro were used to establish a role for this kinase in osteoclastogenesis, illustrating the value of these inhibitors as tool compounds to probe the diverse biological functions associated with this unique kinase.

Filippakopoulos P, Picaud S, Mangos M, Keates T, Lambert J-P, Barsyte-Lovejoy D, Felletar I, Volkmer R, Müller S, Pawson T et al. 2012. Histone recognition and large-scale structural analysis of the human bromodomain family. Cell, 149 (1), pp. 214-231. | Citations: 626 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bromodomains (BRDs) are protein interaction modules that specifically recognize ε-N-lysine acetylation motifs, a key event in the reading process of epigenetic marks. The 61 BRDs in the human genome cluster into eight families based on structure/sequence similarity. Here, we present 29 high-resolution crystal structures, covering all BRD families. Comprehensive crossfamily structural analysis identifies conserved and family-specific structural features that are necessary for specific acetylation-dependent substrate recognition. Screening of more than 30 representative BRDs against systematic histone-peptide arrays identifies new BRD substrates and reveals a strong influence of flanking posttranslational modifications, such as acetylation and phosphorylation, suggesting that BRDs recognize combinations of marks rather than singly acetylated sequences. We further uncovered a structural mechanism for the simultaneous binding and recognition of diverse diacetyl-containing peptides by BRD4. These data provide a foundation for structure-based drug design of specific inhibitors for this emerging target family.

Filippakopoulos P, Picaud S, Fedorov O, Keller M, Wrobel M, Morgenstern O, Bracher F, Knapp S. 2012. Benzodiazepines and benzotriazepines as protein interaction inhibitors targeting bromodomains of the BET family Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, 20 (6), pp. 1878-1886. | Citations: 71 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs with anxiolytic, sedative, skeletal muscle relaxant and amnestic properties. Recently triazolo-benzodiazepines have been also described as potent and highly selective protein interaction inhibitors of bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) proteins, a family of transcriptional co-regulators that play a key role in cancer cell survival and proliferation, but the requirements for high affinity interaction of this compound class with bromodomains has not been described. Here we provide insight into the structure-activity relationship (SAR) and selectivity of this versatile scaffold. In addition, using high resolution crystal structures we compared the binding mode of a series of benzodiazepine (BzD) and related triazolo-benzotriazepines (BzT) derivatives including clinically approved drugs such as alprazolam and midazolam. Our analysis revealed the importance of the 1-methyl triazolo ring system for BET binding and suggests modifications for the development of further high affinity bromodomain inhibitors. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Pasquo A, Consalvi V, Knapp S, Alfano I, Ardini M, Stefanini S, Chiaraluce R. 2012. Structural stability of human protein tyrosine phosphatase ρ catalytic domain: effect of point mutations. PLoS One, 7 (2), pp. e32555. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein tyrosine phosphatase ρ (PTPρ) belongs to the classical receptor type IIB family of protein tyrosine phosphatase, the most frequently mutated tyrosine phosphatase in human cancer. There are evidences to suggest that PTPρ may act as a tumor suppressor gene and dysregulation of Tyr phosphorylation can be observed in diverse diseases, such as diabetes, immune deficiencies and cancer. PTPρ variants in the catalytic domain have been identified in cancer tissues. These natural variants are nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms, variations of a single nucleotide occurring in the coding region and leading to amino acid substitutions. In this study we investigated the effect of amino acid substitution on the structural stability and on the activity of the membrane-proximal catalytic domain of PTPρ. We expressed and purified as soluble recombinant proteins some of the mutants of the membrane-proximal catalytic domain of PTPρ identified in colorectal cancer and in the single nucleotide polymorphisms database. The mutants show a decreased thermal and thermodynamic stability and decreased activation energy relative to phosphatase activity, when compared to wild- type. All the variants show three-state equilibrium unfolding transitions similar to that of the wild- type, with the accumulation of a folding intermediate populated at ~4.0 M urea.

Adams CJ, Pike ACW, Maniam S, Sharpe TD, Coutts AS, Knapp S, La Thangue NB, Bullock AN. 2012. The p53 cofactor Strap exhibits an unexpected TPR motif and oligonucleotide-binding (OB)-fold structure. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (10), pp. 3778-3783. | Citations: 9 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Activation of p53 target genes for tumor suppression depends on the stress-specific regulation of transcriptional coactivator complexes. Strap (stress-responsive activator of p300) is activated upon DNA damage by ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and Chk2 kinases and is a key regulator of the p53 response. In addition to antagonizing Mdm2, Strap facilitates the recruitment of p53 coactivators, including JMY and p300. Strap is a predicted TPR-repeat protein, but shows only limited sequence identity with any protein of known structure. To address this and to elucidate the molecular mechanism of Strap activity we determined the crystal structure of the full-length protein at 2.05 Å resolution. The structure of Strap reveals an atypical six tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) protein that also contains an unexpected oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide-binding (OB)-fold domain. This previously unseen domain organization provides an extended superhelical scaffold allowing for protein-protein as well as protein-DNA interaction. We show that both of the TPR and OB-fold domains localize to the chromatin of p53 target genes and exhibit intrinsic regulatory activity necessary for the Strap-dependent p53 response.

Fedorov O, Niesen FH, Knapp S. 2012. Kinase inhibitor selectivity profiling using differential scanning fluorimetry. Methods Mol Biol, 795 pp. 109-118. | Citations: 54 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Fast, robust, and inexpensive screening methods are the heart of drug discovery processes. Moreover, it is useful to have access to several established assay formats, for validation purposes. If a targeted protein is an enzyme, the logical and widely used approach is the direct measurement of the effect of the added ligands on its activity. A variety of enzymatic assay formats have been successfully applied for inhibitor screening of protein kinases. However, enzymatic assays require an active enzyme with a known substrate and often time-consuming assay optimization. Several alternative approaches have been recently developed that detect binding of ligands to proteins. This chapter overviews and provides the experimental protocol of the successful application of differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF) in our laboratory for fast and robust screening of medium-sized (<10,000) inhibitor libraries. DSF monitors the thermal stabilization of the native protein structure upon ligand binding. It allows selectivity profiling of any protein kinase without prior knowledge of either substrate or activity of the kinase under investigation. Comparative studies revealed that generated data is highly reproducible and correlates well with the results from other ligand binding methodologies, direct binding constants as well as enzymatic assays.

Brennan P, Filippakopoulos P, Knapp S. 2012. The therapeutic potential of acetyl-lysine and methyl-lysine effector domains Drug Discovery Today: Therapeutic Strategies, | Citations: 2 (Scopus)

Filippakopoulos P, Knapp S. 2012. The bromodomain interaction module. FEBS Lett, 586 (17), pp. 2692-2704. | Citations: 193 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

ε-N-acetylation of lysine residues (K(ac)) is one of the most abundant post-translation modifications (PTMs) in the human proteome. In the nucleus, acetylation of histones has been linked to transcriptional activation of genes but the functional consequences of most acetylation events and proteins recruited to these sites remains largely unknown. Bromodomains (BRDs) are small helical interaction modules that specifically recognize acetylation sites in proteins. BRDs have recently emerged as interesting targets for the development of specific protein interaction inhibitors, enabling a novel exiting strategy for the development of new therapies. This review provides an overview over sequence requirements of BRDs, known substrates and the structural mechanisms of specific K(ac) recognition.

Brault L, Menter T, Obermann EC, Knapp S, Thommen S, Schwaller J, Tzankov A. 2012. PIM kinases are progression markers and emerging therapeutic targets in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Br J Cancer, 107 (3), pp. 491-500. | Citations: 31 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: PIM serine/threonine kinases are often highly expressed in haematological malignancies. We have shown that PIM inhibitors reduced the survival and migration of leukaemic cells. Here, we investigated PIM kinases in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) biopsy samples and DLBCL cell lines. METHODS: Immunohistochemical staining for PIM kinases and CXCR4 was performed on tissue microarrays from a cohort of 101 DLBCL cases, and the effects of PIM inhibitors on the survival and migration of DLBCL cell lines were determined. RESULTS: PIM1 expression significantly correlated with the activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 and 5, P-glycoprotein expression, CXCR4-S339 phosphorylation, and cell proliferation. Whereas most cases exhibited cytoplasmic or cytoplasmic and nuclear PIM1 and PIM2 expression, 12 cases (10 of the non-germinal centre DLBCL type) expressed PIM1 predominately in the nucleus. Interestingly, nuclear expression of PIM1 significantly correlated with disease stage. Exposure of DLBCL cell lines to PIM inhibitors modestly impaired cellular proliferation and CXCR4-mediated migration. CONCLUSION: This work demonstrates that PIM expression in DLBCL is associated with activation of the JAK/STAT signalling pathway and with the proliferative activity. The correlation of nuclear PIM1 expression with disease stage and the modest response to small-molecule inhibitors suggests that PIM kinases are progression markers rather than primary therapeutic targets in DLBCL.

Meiby E, Knapp S, Elkins JM, Ohlson S. 2012. Fragment screening of cyclin G-associated kinase by weak affinity chromatography. Anal Bioanal Chem, 404 (8), pp. 2417-2425. | Citations: 18 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) has become a new strategy for drug discovery where lead compounds are evolved from small molecules. These fragments form low affinity interactions (dissociation constant (K(D)) = mM - μM) with protein targets, which require fragment screening methods of sufficient sensitivity. Weak affinity chromatography (WAC) is a promising new technology for fragment screening based on selective retention of fragments by a drug target. Kinases are a major pharmaceutical target, and FBDD has been successfully applied to several of these targets. In this work, we have demonstrated the potential to use WAC in combination with mass spectrometry (MS) detection for fragment screening of a kinase target-cyclin G-associated kinase (GAK). One hundred seventy fragments were selected for WAC screening by virtual screening of a commercial fragment library against the ATP-binding site of five different proteins. GAK protein was immobilized on a capillary HPLC column, and compound binding was characterized by frontal affinity chromatography. Compounds were screened in sets of 13 or 14, in combination with MS detection for enhanced throughput. Seventy-eight fragments (46 %) with K(D) < 200 μM were detected, including a few highly efficient GAK binders (K(D) of 2 μM; ligand efficiency = 0.51). Of special interest is that chiral screening by WAC may be possible, as two stereoisomeric fragments, which both contained one chiral center, demonstrated twin peaks. This ability, in combination with the robustness, sensitivity, and simplicity of WAC makes it a new method for fragment screening of considerable potential.

Huber K, Brault L, Fedorov O, Gasser C, Filippakopoulos P, Bullock AN, Fabbro D, Trappe J, Schwaller J, Knapp S, Bracher F. 2012. 7,8-dichloro-1-oxo-β-carbolines as a versatile scaffold for the development of potent and selective kinase inhibitors with unusual binding modes. J Med Chem, 55 (1), pp. 403-413. | Citations: 47 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Development of both potent and selective kinase inhibitors is a challenging task in modern drug discovery. The innate promiscuity of kinase inhibitors largely results from ATP-mimetic binding to the kinase hinge region. We present a novel class of substituted 7,8-dichloro-1-oxo-β-carbolines based on the distinct structural features of the alkaloid bauerine C whose kinase inhibitory activity does not rely on canonical ATP-mimetic hinge interactions. Intriguingly, cocrystal structures revealed an unexpected inverted binding mode and the presence of halogen bonds with kinase backbone residues. The compounds exhibit excellent selectivity over a comprehensive panel of human protein kinases while inhibiting selected kinases such as the oncogenic PIM1 at low nanomolar concentrations. Together, our biochemical and structural data suggest that this scaffold may serve as a valuable template for the design and development of specific inhibitors of various kinases including the PIM family of kinases, CLKs, DAPK3 (ZIPK), BMP2K (BIKE), and others.

Filippakopoulos P, Picaud S, Fedorov O, Keller M, Wrobel M, Morgenstern O, Bracher F, Knapp S. 2012. Benzodiazepines and benzotriazepines as protein interaction inhibitors targeting bromodomains of the BET family. Bioorg Med Chem, 20 (6), pp. 1878-1886. | Citations: 67 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs with anxiolytic, sedative, skeletal muscle relaxant and amnestic properties. Recently triazolo-benzodiazepines have been also described as potent and highly selective protein interaction inhibitors of bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) proteins, a family of transcriptional co-regulators that play a key role in cancer cell survival and proliferation, but the requirements for high affinity interaction of this compound class with bromodomains has not been described. Here we provide insight into the structure-activity relationship (SAR) and selectivity of this versatile scaffold. In addition, using high resolution crystal structures we compared the binding mode of a series of benzodiazepine (BzD) and related triazolo-benzotriazepines (BzT) derivatives including clinically approved drugs such as alprazolam and midazolam. Our analysis revealed the importance of the 1-methyl triazolo ring system for BET binding and suggests modifications for the development of further high affinity bromodomain inhibitors.

Shrestha A, Hamilton G, O'Neill E, Knapp S, Elkins JM. 2012. Analysis of conditions affecting auto-phosphorylation of human kinases during expression in bacteria. Protein Expr Purif, 81 (1), pp. 136-143. | Citations: 20 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacterial over-expression of kinases is often associated with high levels of auto-phosphorylation resulting in heterogeneous recombinant protein preparations or sometimes in insoluble protein. Here we present expression systems for nine kinases in Escherichia coli and, for the most heavily phosphorylated, the characterisation of factors affecting auto-phosphorylation. Experiments showed that the level of auto-phosphorylation was proportional to the rate of expression. Comparison of phosphorylation states following in vitro phosphorylation with phosphorylation states following expression in E. coli showed that the non-physiological 'hyper-phosphorylation' was occurring at sites that would require local unfolding to be accessible to a kinase active site. In contrast, auto-phosphorylation on unphosphorylated kinases that had been expressed in bacteria overexpressing λ-phosphatase was only observed on distinct exposed sites. Remarkably, the Ser/Thr kinase PLK4 auto-phosphorylated on a tyrosine residue (Tyr177) located in the activation segment. The results give support to a mechanism in which auto-phosphorylation occurs before or during protein folding. In addition, the expression systems and protocols presented will be a valuable resource to the research community.

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